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7 Stress Signals Your Dog May Offer Prior to a Bite

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Teach Your Children Well, 7 Stress Signals To Watch for Prior to a Dog Bite

Dogs can and do bite.  In the US alone 850,000 people seek medical attention for dog bites annually. When children are bitten it is usually a dog they know (theirs, neighbors, friends). While biting is usually a last resort type of communication for most dogs, it is just that, a way of communicating “I am afraid” or “I don’t like what you are doing to or around me”.  Usually a dog offers another form of communication previous to a bite. Most adults and definitely children either don’t pick up on these signals or ignore them.

While I certainly don’t believe it is ok for a dog to bite I also don’t believe the responsibility falls solely on the dog in any given situation.

Knowing the stress signals a dog may offer and teaching them to your children can significantly reduce the chance of a dog bite. Additionally supervision is key. Never leave small children unattended with any dog. NEVER.

When a dog is in a stressful situation it has several options (in its mind), flight, fight, avoidance, submission. Let me point out that what is stressful is relative to the dog in question. What you may think is ok behavior for your child, may frighten your dog.

Here are 7 common stress signals that dogs exhibit…

1. Tense, stiff body

2. Lip licking

3. Yawning

4. Head turned away

5. Whites of eyes showing

6. Moving away(avoidance) from person/situation

7. Growling

If you ignore these signals you are in a sense saying to your dog that you don’t care how they feel. When put in these situations some dogs feel as if they have no choice but to escalate to the next level (biting) in order to get their point across.

Teach your children to respect these 7 signals prior to a dog bite and supervise because children do forget. For a free infographic on this subject email me at

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